Florence, Italy presents a challenge: there are simply too many things to see! Most of the artwork is scattered among a number of museums, galleries, and churches; you can find interesting architecture all over the old part of the city; and the layout of the city itself is worth a look. Of course, Pisa is a separate close-by destination, the Tuscan countryside is worth a visit, and the techies among us can find a half-day tour of the marble quarries that still produce dimension stone for buildings as well as produced blocks of Carrera marble chosen by Michelangelo and other artists for carving statues. What to do?

With too many choices and too little time, we had to do triage. After consideration, we decided to visit Pisa (see previous post) and see Michelangelo’s famous statue of David.

Admission ticket to see David.

The statue of David was remarkable and well worth the effort. David, the boy and then man after God’s own heart, had already been portrayed by other artists, usually in paintings, but the artists usually showed him after his battle with Goliath, sometimes with Goliath’s severed head. Michelangelo apparently decided to show David just before the battle.

Closeup of David as he considers his imminent fight with the giant, Goliath. What do you see in his face?

The statue is about 17 feet tall and weighs about six tons, so Michelangelo had plenty of material to show David’s features, right up to the veins in his arms and the look on his face. What was he thinking as he confronted Goliath? Scripture tells us of David’s confidence in God as he faced this impossible battle, but he must have also been thinking about which stone to use in his sling, how to launch it, and so on. Unless muscle memory took over.

David from the rear. Notice the tree stump behind his right leg, the sling draped over his shoulder, and the position of his right hand holding the pocket at the end of the sling.

What do you make of the stump behind David’s right leg? From an engineering point of view (and Michelangelo was no slouch when it came to engineering), the stump added thickness to the marble in David’s leg, and this would help support the weight of the upper parts of the statue. But there is also a Biblical aspect that Dorcas pointed out. Remember how God promised to raise up a leader from the stump of Jesse (look it up)? Might the artist have had that promise in mind when he showed David, son of Jesse, almost as part of a stump? Definitely a nice but unexpected touch.

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